We thank our good friend, Chris Mason, for contributing this post to our blog. Chris is the Founder of Mindshop. Mindshop fast-tracks the success of business leaders and advisors by providing them with the business tools, strategic methodologies, global peer-networking opportunities and experienced coaching support needed to achieve their growth and profit objectives.
I like having competitors, I even admire some, and respect others. I race a car as a hobby and I learn more from my competitors than I do from any other source. I have purchased books and attended driver training courses, yet it has been the analysis of my own performance, in relation to the performance of more experienced and more capable competitors, that has benefited me the most.
I have installed cameras and data recorders in my car so that I can review each race I participate in to see where and how to improve. This is important because I am really competing against myself, striving to continuously improve my skills and improvements. My race car is actually road-registered and has the number plate “KAIZEN” which is a Japanese word meaning incremental improvement. The number plate reminds me that my objective when on the track is continuous improvement, not just about winning. Kaizen is a philosophy, and it includes elements such as, quality, involvement, effort, willingness to change, and communication.
I share my videos and data with one of my competitors, he has emulated my data recording sytem in his car specifically so we can share the data. I am quicker than him on some corners even though we have the same make and model of car, and he is quicker on others, resulting in him being about 3 or 4 seconds a lap faster than me on all the tracks we compete on. I am not improving in relation to him (because we are both improving at roughly the same rate) but in 2012 I improved my average lap time for each track by 2 – 4 seconds.
We at Mindshop have a adopted a similar approach to our business competitors except for the bit about exchanging data. I think the motives and ethics of my race-car competitor are a mirror of mine; so I trust him. I can’t say the same about my two main competitors. I can still learn from them, particularly by studying their strengths and using their weaknesses to develop strategies that I know they would find very difficult to copy.
My advice to you is to do a comprehensive competitive analysis of your competitors using yourself as the benchmark, then decide on some changes you need to make to continuously improve your own performance in relation to your current performance. This year, 2012, will be full of opportunities, but you need to be more capable than you currently are to take advantage of them. Your competitors will show you the way to KAIZEN, embrace it as your philosophy for 2012.